AFL News: Marvel or the moon – Magpies not fazed by venue, Voss backs contentious mid-year rule change


Collingwood coach Craig McRae’s former boss Damien Hardwick, then in charge of Richmond, famously declared he hated his side being forced to play home games three kilometres away from the MCG.

Hardwick implied the Tigers’ legion of fans didn’t turn up to Marvel Stadium because the AFL-owned venue lacked “soul” when compared to their regular base.

But Magpies mentor McRae approaches the necessary evil differently, unfazed by playing the odd home game at the Docklands venue to satisfy league contracts.

“We’ll play on the moon, mate,” McRae said ahead of Collingwood’s clash with the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.

“We don’t care where we play. We’ll go there and our fans will turn up – they always do – and we’ll put on a good show.

“Friday night’s a good opportunity for young guys who maybe haven’t played (much) under lights and under the roof. It’s an opportunity to show what they’ve got.”

Collingwood, the league’s MCG specialists, trounced interstate opponent West Coast by 66 points in their previous home fixture at Marvel Stadium in round 10.

This time, they face a Bulldogs outfit that is more familiar with the Docklands venue than almost every rival, playing more than half their games there.

Both sides have been smashed by injuries, adding an intriguing layer to the contest, with the Bulldogs losing leading goalkicker Aaron Naughton (knee) and in-form midfielder Ed Richards (concussion).

But McRae is wary of the Dogs, who sit 11th with a 5-6 record and the second-best percentage (121.3) in the competition behind ladder-leaders Sydney (10-1, 150.1 per cent).

“Percentage is a good reader of teams and theirs is really strong” McRae said.

“They can score really heavily and a couple of outs for them sort of helps us, but we’ve got a couple out too.

Harvey Harrison celebrates a goal. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“They’re a good clearance team, always have been, really good around the ball and contest and their hands out of stoppage is really strong.

“There’s no easy games and we’ll have to be at our best to get this job done.”

Collingwood sit seventh and are unbeaten in their last eight games – six wins and two draws – after losing the opening three matches of their premiership defence.

They have lost Scott Pendlebury (arm), Brody Mihocek (hamstring), Mason Cox (knee/concussion) and Joe Richards (foot) in further injury blows this week.

Jeremy Howe (groin) and Jack Bytel (concussion) return from injuries, with Oleg Markov, Ash Johnson and Finlay Macrae also back.

The Bulldogs have recalled James O’Donnell, Lachlan McNeill and Rory Lobb in place of Anthony Scott (concussion), Richards and Naughton.

Voss backs rule change

Carlton’s Michael Voss is wholeheartedly endorsing the change to the  holding-the-ball law, saying the rule is now back where it should be.

Voss was among coaches who agitated for change to the rule, which was delivered midweek by the AFL.

Umpires have been instructed to reduce the time given to players to dispose of the ball when tackled.

And Voss says on the evidence of Carlton’s win against Port Adelaide on Thursday night, the change has been instantly justified.

About half-dozen holding-the-ball free kicks were paid in a match featuring 131 tackles.

Only two of those decisions were under the fresh interpretation – a Matthew Owies tackle on Port’s Kane Farrell, and an Aliir Aliir tackle on Carlton’s Charlie Curnow.

“There was a couple – and I thought for the better,” Voss said post-game.

“I thought there was one that Charlie, it was against him and … I just sort of  thought that was safer for the player.

” … I am only talking about prior (opportunity) here.

“And I think there was a Matty Owies one as well that I thought ‘that was how it should be adjudicated’.

Carlton’s Adam Saad competes with Port Adelaide opponent Jed McEntee at Adelaide Oval. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

“In the current landscape of AFL football and with all the current things that are really important to us that we say are important to us, I thought those two decisions were correct as far as the prior opportunity goes.

“It was certainly closer to where I thought it should be.”

Some coaches including Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell forecast teething problems with the tweak as umpires adjusted.

But Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley said he barely noticed any difference in Thursday night’s fixture. “I didn’t really notice it, to be honest,” he said.

“I was anticipating there would be a bit of it, I think there were maybe a few early.
“But overall I thought as far as a tweak to the rule, if that is what was happening, I didn’t notice too much.”

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